New hospital garments safer, more comfortable

New hospital garments safer, more comfortable
Diane Raines, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, Nancy Simon, vice president of patient care services, Michael Mayo, president of Baptist Medical Center

While much of the country’s medical centers scramble to put measures in place to grapple with and contain highly infectious diseases – such as the Ebola virus – Baptist Health started taking steps to ensure both patient and staff safety about three years ago when they began exploring the Vestex® technology being developed by Orlando-based Vestagen.

In July Baptist Health distributed specialized staff garments that made it the first health system in the world to widely adopt textile technology that repel fluids and minimize the risk of transmission of organisms.

In mid-October Baptist began a phased roll-out of the technology-enhanced, modified gowns and shirt and sports-style shorts to its inpatients across its medical centers, finishing up with Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville early last month. Wolfson Children’s Hospital patients will begin using the Vestex apparel in January.

Baptist Health was the first medical center in the United States to adopt this technology. According to Diane Raines, senior vice president and chief nursing officer, there are a few other hospitals considering it, primarily for emergency rooms.

“It’s a pretty significant investment to do it for everyone,” said Raines, a San Marco resident. “You want to channel your resources toward infection prevention, which is our top priority.”

Patient Anthony Roesch models the new Vestex shirt and sports-style shorts

Patient Anthony Roesch models the new Vestex shirt and sports-style shorts

The patient garments feature a fluid barrier bonded to individual fibers, resulting in material that is highly repellent to bodily fluids, water, oil and dirt. High repellency has been shown to synergize with embedded antimicrobial technology to prevent organisms from being acquired and retained on the fabric. Soft surfaces, like patient gowns, are vectors for the spread of organisms in acute care settings.

“What we know from the studies that were done [on Vestex] is that the amount of organisms on the garments changes dramatically,” Raines noted. “We have our own study going on for our patients in ICUs. We took measurements on the regular gowns and once everyone is converted we’ll go back in and measure again.”

Designed with input from Baptist team members, patients and their families, patient shirts, shorts and gowns provide full coverage, as well as pockets, for convenient storage of personal items such as mobile phones. The designs feature full fabric panels on both sides that wrap, snaps along the tops of both shoulders for quick and easy access, ties at the waist and two pockets.

Westside resident Anthony Roesch is already a fan of the patient garments. He was one of the first to wear the shirt and sports-style shorts while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for stomach cancer. During his first two treatments he wore the traditional “open-in-the-back” gown, but when he went in for his third treatment last month he was given a set of the new Vestex garments.

“The snap at the top in the back is easier than the string; a lot of people can’t tie the string without seeing it,” he said, demonstrating. “It’s got pockets and you can put your stuff in there. This is a lot more comfortable than having your backside hang out. It makes me feel like they care.”

If adopted on a large scale by hospitals and health systems nationwide, garments with Vestex technology could help significantly reduce the spread of infection and incidence of hospital-acquired infections such as antibiotic-resistant Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one health care-associated infection. Hospital-acquired infections result in up to $4.5 billion in additional health care expenses annually.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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